New York’s Primary Election: Democratic Candidates Face Challenges from Right and Left

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Vulnerable Democrats and Republicans will face their first hurdle to reelection with the primaries in New York on June 25, with one “Squad” Democrat preparing for one of the most competitive contests this cycle after record-breaking spending.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) is facing Westchester County Executive George Latimer in the 16th Congressional District, a contest that has grown messy as Bowman continues to lose endorsements and support from Jewish groups and their allies over his defense of pro-Palestinian protests and calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Bowman’s voting record has also spurned several pro-Israel groups, including his vote against a resolution condemning support for Hamas and other terrorist organizations on college campuses. His perceived anti-Israel stance has led the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to pour nearly $2 million into Latimer’s campaign, the most it has raised for any congressional candidate. The group is also on track to spend nearly $25 million in the race.

The 16th Congressional District encompasses a large Jewish population, making the Israel-Hamas war a central campaign issue. Bowman’s campaign has also taken a hit when a fellow progressive and former Rep. Mondaire Jones endorsed Latimer over the incumbent, arguing that it was because of Bowman’s stance on Israel he could not support him in his reelection.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC rescinded its endorsement of Jones shortly after he endorsed Latimer, with Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) saying she was “disgusted” with Jones’s decision. Hillary Clinton also endorsed Latimer, drawing ire from congressional progressives, too.

Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is facing a centrist challenger with backing from conservatives. Marty Dolan, a 66-year-old investment banker who describes himself as progressive but not “radical” — a word he would use to describe the congresswoman, is considered a political newcomer and faces an uphill battle to unseat Ocasio-Cortez, who is seeking a third term after defeating a 10-term incumbent in a major primary upset in 2018.

In the 22nd Congressional District, Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY) faces a challenge from the right, with state Sen. John Mannion and DeWitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood competing in the Democratic primary. The seat has been in Republican hands since 2014, but redistricting has shifted it to “lean Democrat,” giving the Democratic primary candidates double the fervor to win the first contest in preparation for the general election.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) has notably not endorsed in any Democratic primaries, though her support of either Bowman or Latimer would likely carry weight enough to shift the contest in either direction.

Rachel Schilke
Rachel Schilke
Congress Reporter.

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